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Arthur Szyk, a “Soldier in Art”

by Bennett Muraskin   ALTHOUGH ARTHUR SZYK (1894-1951) is best known today for his Illuminated Hagaddah (1940), still widely used at Passover seders, he was in many ways a political artist, a self-described “soldier in art,” who used his talents to attack fascism, call for the rescue to European Jewry from Nazi-occupied Europe, promote the American war effort and make […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Full Disclosure, She Wrote a Note to My Son

THE WONDERFUL WORK OF MAIRA KALMAN by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Hey Willy, See the Pyramids by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2017; Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2017; Ooh-la-la (Max in Love) by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2018; Max in Hollywood, Baby by Maira Kalman, […]

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Amedeo Modigliani

Painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani died on this date in 1920. Best known for painting elongated, nude women with impassive, mask-like faces, Modigliani became a drug and alcohol abuser who lived a starving artist’s life in Paris until dying from tubercular meningitis at age 36. He was born into a Sephardic family in Livorno, Italy, […]

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Petlyura and the Ukrainian Pogroms

On this date in 1919, Simon Petlyura, Ukrainian writer, Cossack commander, and head of the breakaway Ukrainian state during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, began attacking Jews in a sustained wave of violence that took the lives of tens of thousands. Hundreds of cities and towns were attacked; thousands of Jewish women […]

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Collaborating with Bertolt Brecht — and Walt Disney

German composer and conductor Paul Dessau died at 84 on this date in 1979. Dessau was the creator of operas, ballets, symphonies, vocal music, orchestral works, and more. In the 1920s, he composed music for early films by Walt Disney and for silent German films, and established himself as a conductor at prominent German opera […]

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January 9: Heine’s Baptism

“I regret very deeply that I had myself baptized,” wrote German poet, memoirist, and essayist Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) on this date in 1826. “I do not see that I have been the better for it since. On the contrary, I have known nothing but misfortunes and mischances.” Famous as a lyric poet (many of whose […]

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December 14: A Rabbi of the Resistance

David Feuerwerker, a rabbi who helped liberate Lyons from fascist rule and then reestablished the Jewish community in that city after World War II, was awarded the Gold Medal of the City of Paris on this date in 1957. Feuerwerker was “an eminent scholar and spiritual leader of French-speaking Jews in North America,” said the […]

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November 2: Jewish Life, Chiseled in Marble

Mark Antokolsky, a Russian Jewish artist who sculpted on Jewish themes in works titled “Jewish Tailor” (in wood), “Nathan The Wise,” “Inquisition’s Attack against Jews” (unfinished), “Spinoza,” and “The Talmudic Debate,” was born in Vilna on this date in 1840. Antokolsky trained at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg in the 1860s, then […]

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May 3: Georges Moustaki

Singer-songwriter Georges Moustaki, who wrote some 300 songs for France’s most popular singers, including Édith Piaf and Yves Montand, was born in Alexandria, Egypt on this date in 1934. His parents were Greek Jews from Corfu who spoke many languages and owned the Cité du livre, an outstanding bookstore in Alexandria. He became a Paris […]

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